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WISD coach Mixon dies

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2 Jennifer Mixon 031821FILE PHOTO Jennifer Mixon

By Chris Edwards

WOODVILLE –  Longtime Woodville ISD educator and coach Jennifer Mixon died last week at the age of 50.

Mixon died on Friday at Lakeside Lodge in Brookeland. She had been fighting breast cancer for several years and undergoing treatments. WISD Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg said Mixon had, in more than 20 years with the district, impacted the lives of many and left behind “a legacy of strength, courage, caring and commitment.”

A public funeral service is planned for 10 a.m. on Thursday at Eagle Stadium, with a graveside service to follow at 1 p.m. in Little Hope Cemetery in the Beech Grove community. WISD is cancelling classes on Thursday so that all students, staff and families who wish to do so will have the opportunity to pay their respects.

“Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers as we all mourn her loss together,” Meysembourg said.

The athletic director of the WISD girls’ program, Troy Carrell, called Mixon “the backbone of our girls’ athletic program,” and said she will be greatly missed.

“She has had the opportunity to touch countless numbers of students as well as teachers and coaches alike,” Carrell said.

“Coach Mixon was a perfect example of what it meant to be a Lady Eagle. She always held everyone to high standards and expected only the best of what you had to offer both on and off the court,” he added.

Education and athletic leadership ran deep in Mixon’s blood, as her late father, Jerry Ives, was a longtime respected and beloved coach at Elkhart High School. After his death, the school’s stadium was named in his honor. Her brother, Jason, has also served as a coach and administrator. Her husband Shawn has also served as a football and softball coach for WISD.

In addition to her husband and brother, Mixon is survived by two daughters, Shelby and Emily and her mother Darlene, as well as numerous other family members.

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Additional charges for Jasper jailer

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MUGSHOT Anibal VillasanaMUGSHOT Anibal Villasana

By Chris Edwards

WOODVILLE –  A Tyler County Grand Jury handed down two more indictments to a Woodville man who was first indicted last year, all on child rape charges.

Anibal Maurico Villasana, 61, was booked into the Tyler County Justice Center last week on two charges of

Sexual Assault of a Child. He was subsequently released after posting bond. Each charge carried a $100,000 bond amount.

Villasana was indicted on two counts of Indency with a Child by Sexual Contact in December 2020. The indictments came after an investigation regarding incidents alleged to have occurred in Tyler County.

At the time, he was working for the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department. He has worked in various capacities within the Jasper County Jail, including head of kitchen staff and jailer. He had worked for the county for more than 20 years. At the time, he had been placed on leave with pay, pending that case’s outcome.

The four charges Villasana faces are second-degree felonies, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 per charge, between two and 20 years in prison, or both.

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Festival of the Arts kicks-off Dogwood

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1 Dulcimer 01JIM POWERS | PCPC FILE PHOTO Musicians as well as artisans will have their talents on display at the festival of the arts at Heritage Village on Saturday March, 20.

By Chris Edwards

WOODVILLE – A surefire sign that things are eking back into the way they should be in Tyler County is that the Dogwood Festival is upon us, as in starting this weekend.

The festival will kick off with the Festival of the Arts on Saturday at Heritage Village, and it offers a prime opportunity for residents and visitors, alike, to celebrate the heritage and culture of the county, which will turn 175 years young on April 2, the day before the events of Queen’s Weekend, the final weekend of Dogwood.

The Festival of the Arts was one of the first victims of the slew of COVID-19 cancellations last year, as the entire Dogwood Festival had to be rescheduled and relegated to a single Saturday in June. This year, however, it is business as usual, with the pandemic on a downhill slide and the growing availability of the vaccines.

Tyler County Heritage Society President Sarah Reinemeyer said the Village, along with its staff, volunteers and the TCHS Board of Directors wishes to welcome the public back after last year’s absence. The festival is “a fine time to learn, have fun, and make memories,” Reinemeyer said. “We eagerly await your return and hail your good health.”

The gates will open at the Village at 9 a.m., and the festivities last until 3 p.m. Admission is $5, and visitors can tour the Village, take in some live music from the Village Stage and enjoy a special Dogwood Festival exhibit, which is on display in the special exhibits room next to the gift shop.

Along with all of the aforementioned features, there will be a quilt show. Reinemeyer said the Sassy Scrappers group have decorated the entire Village with lots of beautiful homemade quilts. “Each is an art work on its own,” she said. “Many with the family memory to make it more precious.”

Although the traditional dinner-on-the-grounds that has long been a part of the Festival of the Arts has been cancelled this year, visitors will still be able to get some of the legendary food that the Pickett House puts out, including the restaurant’s famous fried chicken and chicken and dumplings.

On Sunday, the Village Street Bed and Breakfast, located at 201 North Village Street in Woodville, will host its Royal Tea, to which all of the little princesses are cordially invited.

The event lasts from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and offers the opportunity for young girls to meet the Royal Court and take photos with the princesses and the ladies-in-waiting and to make their own sash.

Each of the girls who attends will also receive a crown of their own. Tickets are available at the door for $20.

Mr. East Texas named

In addition to the inaugural weekend for the Dogwood Festival, the customary honor of Mr. East Texas has been named. This year, Ben G. Raimer, MD, was awarded that title, as the festival’s executive director Buck Hudson announced on Monday.

Raimer, a Warren High School grad (class of 1965) currently serves as the president ad interim of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He has held many appointments, honors and has earned many advanced degrees.

Raimer is a member of the Texas Pediatric Society Executive Board and President-Elect of TPS. He serves as chair of the Texas Health Institute Board of Directors and the East Texas Baptist University Board of Trustees. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and serves as a commissioner on the BGCT Christian Life Commission.

Raimer served as chair of the Health and Human Services Commission Council for a term, appointed by then-Governor Rick Perry.

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Woodville recognizes Blind Veterans Day

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NEWS Woodville City Hall 03 10 21USED COURTESY OF CREATIVE COMMONS The Woodville City Hall

By Chris Edwards

WOODVILLE – At its regular monthly meeting on Monday evening, the Woodville City Council began with a proclamation to honor blind military veterans in Woodville.

Mayor Paula Jones read the proclamation aloud

The date of March 28 is recognized nationwide as Blinded Veterans Day, recognition that is now in its 76th year, enacted by the 111th Congress to aid in rehabilitative efforts for our nation’s blinded veterans.

Such efforts as improving the VA’s vision rehabilitation services, benefits, research and caregiver support for blinded veterans.

Cleanup scheduled

Under the “Items of Community Interest” standing agenda item, City Administrator Mandy Risinger apprised the council on a variety of ongoing projects and events within the city limits.

One such topic is the city’s annual cleanup effort, which begun on Monday and will last through Friday, March 19.

The city will accept heavy waste at its warehouse, located at 200 Wingate Street. Residents can take advantage of this opportunity for disposal of heavy, solid waste items during this time period from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

There will also be “Be Green – Stay Clean” events on Saturday and on March 20, and Risinger encouraged individuals, as well as organizations to take part in the effort.

On a related topic during her report of community-related items, Risinger said the city will begin sending out letters to property owners of problematic and/or nuisance properties soon to compel them to clean-up said properties. There will also be hearings scheduled over these matters, also with substandard buildings. These issues have been put on hold due to COVID, she said.

Risinger also spoke about the coming Dogwood Festival events, all of which are scheduled to take place as they traditionally do, with Festival of the Arts at Heritage Village; Western Weekend and Queen’s Weekend, scheduled for the third and fourth weekends in March and first weekend in April, respectively.

She referred to the language of Gov. Greg Abbott’s most recent executive order, which ended the mask mandate and reopened occupancy for businesses to 100%, statewide. She said the order does not address public gatherings, and the previous order addressing them allows for localized approval for events of more than 10 people. The festival’s governing board has already approached the city for approval, which was granted, Risinger said.

The city is not planning to issue any vendor permits until May 1, however, which will be after the festival has taken place. “By that time, vaccinations should be readily available, and the summer months will be on,” Risinger said, which are both factors that will further mitigate the spread of the virus, which is in decline locally and nationwide.

Other Business

• The city approved its fiscal year 2019-20 audit, which was conducted by Alexander, Lankford & Heirs. Richard Rudel reported on the audit results to the councilmembers and Jones and said there were no difficulties encountered in conducting the audit.

• Citizens State Bank of Woodville was awarded as the city’s depository bank.

• Risinger reported that the city looked at applying for the $350K CDBG grant cycle, with a match that is to be calculated based on variables such as population. “We are primarily looking at street improvement projects (if funded),” she said. A hearing was held to look at potential projects.

• The city approved the procurement for administration services for CDBG program grant funding to David Waxman and Associates. Risinger said the firm has helped the city obtain millions and millions of dollars throughout the years.

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Resolutions, library funding discussed by Tyler County commissioners

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NEWS TyCoCourthouse graphicCOURTESY OF OFFICIAL COUNTY WEBSITE The Tyler County courthouse

By Chris Edwards

WOODVILLE – The Tyler County Commissioners Court approved a resolution in opposition to two pieces of legislation they say would, if passed, “silence county officials.”

The officials adopted several resolutions and proclamations during its regular monthly meeting on Monday morning. The first resolution the officials approved was to voice opposition to Senate Bill 234 and House Bill 749, of which County Judge Jacques Blanchette said “is of a concern to all of us who hold public office.”

The bill in the Senate (by Sen. Bob Hall) and the House bill (by Rep. Mayes Middleton) would prohibit the usage of county funds to support any non-profit organization engaging in legislative communication.

Blanchette said information is going around about the bills, which are among the thousands of pieces of legislation up for examination in the current legislative session, and other counties across the state are voicing similar opposition.

“It is just simply our way of enjoining ourselves to the other counties who are expressing themselves and their voices to the legislature in the opposition to any of our efforts to speak out to the legislature regarding laws they pass that place burdens upon us that are in turn passed on to the taxpayer,” Blanchette said.

The second item under the heading “Resolutions/Proclamations” was to proclaim the month of April as “Child Abuse Prevention Month” in Tyler County.

CASA board member Donnie Wayne Gulley spoke to the issue before the officials on Monday morning. Gulley, who was a foster child himself, said he has striven to be an advocate for abused and/or neglected children who are in the foster care system.

Gulley said that through the last year there were 188 confirmed victims of child abuse and/or neglect in the county last year, which he said was “188 confirmed victims too many,” along with 87 total children in the child welfare system.

He outlined the process of the Court Appointed Special Advocates and what they do. “The difference that CASA makes for children who have experience abuse or neglect is definitely life-changing,” he said, and spoke of his own experience and memories of abuse at 18 months old when he was removed from his first home.

“We can stop the cycle of abuse by being a much-needed voice of support,” Gulley said.

Library funding discussed

Pct. 2 Commissioner Stevan Sturrock brought an agenda item up for discussion concerning funds allocated to the Allan Shivers Library in Woodville. Sturrock said that he has researched commissioners court minutes from the 1950s or 60s and could not find anything that specified how county funds to the library were to be applied.

Sturrock wanted to bring the item up so that the court could have, in writing, a way for the facility to use county funds in whatever ways its governing board sees fit.

Blanchette and Pct. 3 Commissioner Mike Marshall are both on the library’s board, and former county employee Kay Timme was recently appointed. “The concept is certainly laudable and has a lot of merit,” Blanchette said of Sturrock’s agenda item. He recommended suspending any action until more information comes from the governing board for the library. He also described its funding structure, which comes from three different entities: Woodville ISD, the City of Woodville and Tyler County, and is supplemented further by grants, fundraisers and donations.

Timme read the deed for the library, which states that if there is a failure to keep the facility going on the part of the three contributing entities, the funding would revert back to a foundation associated with the Shivers family.

Other documents that Timme uncovered spelled out what particulars the county is responsible for funding, which include the staff along with books and professional supplies.

Library board member Josh McClure also spoke on the topic, specifically to the inclusion of the word “may” within Sturrock’s agenda item, as in “Tyler County may support the Allan Shivers Library in the amount agreed upon by the Commissioners’ Court…,” which McClure said could be problematic in the future, with regard to whomever might be elected to serve in the future and their desire to fund or not to fund.

“I do think that wording needs to be visited,” McClure said. “If the policy said ‘may,’ and then one day someone who doesn’t support the library is voted in…and says ‘Hey, we don’t have to do this,’…it would put more of a burden on the county.”

Other Business

During Monday’s meeting, the commissioners also approved the following items:

• A proclamation recognizing March as Red Cross Awareness Month in Tyler County

• A resolution for an indigent defense grant program

• A proclamation to proclaim March 1 through April 3 as “It’s Dogwood Time in Tyler County”

• Billie Read and Walter McAlpin were re-appointed to the Tyler County Hospital Board of Managers to begin serving new two-year terms.

• The starting of procurement services for engineering and administrative services for the fiscal year 2021-22 TDA CDBG grant cycle, along with the appointment of a rating committee were both approved.

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